Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Do you ever feel completely alone?  Surrounded by lots of family & friends, but all alone?  That's kinda where I am right now.  Not in a depressed sort of way, just in a NOBODY else gets THIS sort of way.  I mean, other people get "it", but there is no-one else on earth going through exactly what I am.  I have support, I have love, I have shoulders to cry on...  but even though my friends and family accept it, live it, or love me enough to tolerate it, nobody else gets THIS.
((Perhaps before you read further you should reference my last post, because there are ppl who (mostly at least) get it, and there is support for all of us.  This post is just my personal pity party, a glimpse of the emotional turmoil I'm living in at this moment.))
I. screwed. up.  It is my fault.  I thought I had it figured out & I thought life was grand.  Boy, oh boy, was I wrong!  KMan, he did great *with me* unmedicated.  He was awesome.  Life was great.  (Well, mostly at least.)  I suppose because really life was just better than it had been on the ADHD drug drug cocktail his former doctor insisted was the best for him.  -Notice the word former?!, live & learn.  I controlled his environment without even realizing I was controlling it, because I know what works.  We didn't frequent crowded places, I allowed the breaking of rules that didn't really matter, I helped him find things to calm himself when he needed to, etc, etc, etc.  I did it because I know him & it was just instinct.  So I was gung-ho about him being at school unmedicated.  He could do it, I mean I knew he'd need accommodations, but it would be okay.
Oh dear heaven, I failed him.  I failed him miserably.
He was no longer shielded from crowds (there's almost 1,000 kids in his K-4th school!!), he was no longer allowed to break rules that were okay to break, he was no longer given guidance when he was overwhelmed/overstimulated/over-anything.  So the notes began, and the oops slips came, and the calls started...  but even with all that, I wasn't really being told how bad it was.  You know what the worst part is?
Other parents are concerned.
They're afraid my kid might hurt their kid (which I honestly can't see happening - but I know my kid & they don't, so I don't fault them for thinking it's possible.  I guess.).  They're bothered my kid is sucking up learning time.  They're expressing who-knows-what other concerns & all I get to know is that "other parents are concerned".  Isn't that awful?  That I can't be told more than that?  These parents somehow know enough about *MY* child to be concerned, but I'm not allowed to know more about their specific concerns.  Seems wrong, doesn't it?  But, what do I do??  The handful of parents I've run into have never expressed a concern to me directly & I'm not sure if it's because they're to ??scared?? to, or if the ones I've run into really have no problem.  How can I know?  Do you have any idea how much that hurts though?  To know that ADULTS are forming an opinion about MY BABY, when they don't even know him?  and if they are forming an opinion, are they sharing that opinion with their children?  If so, where on earth is that going to lead??  Nowhere good, that's for sure.
Seriously, sit and think for a moment - whether you have a NT (neuro-typical aka "normal") kid or a kid with whatever kind of issue...  what if that was YOUR BABY that parents were judging???
How can I not feel alone right now?  Have YOU ever been told those words?  Have YOU ever had your heart stomped on that way?  All the support & love in the world cannot fix the part of me that was broken the moment those words were put out there.  Never.  I will never, ever, ever have that part of my heart back.
If I had the patience (& I didn't have a toddler), I probably would've pulled him from school at that moment to homeschool.  But I do not have it in me right now. If I ever have to do it, I will, because that's what moms do, right?  But I'm not at that point yet.  Why?  Because his school is great.  They are working so hard to find a way for him.  I am working so hard to find a way for him.
KMan is a social butterfly, Right now he's pretty clueless about whether others like him or not (plus, they're still young enough that it changes at the drop of a hat), and as for the few people that he has realized don't like him, he doesn't take that as a bad thing, but as a challenge to change their opinion.  :p  He's awesome like that.
Me on the other hand, I gave up caring what other people thought long ago, but that moment of being told that "other parents have concerns" brought back the strangest feelings of isolation.  Let's be brutally honest here, many NT parents just don't get (or care to attempt to get) that the issues your child is struggling with is not a reflection of you, but a serious neurological problem in them.  So you stand on the sidelines & suddenly feel them looking down their noses at you.  Wow.  I haven't felt that in a long time (I think it went out the day Kman beat me with a summer sausage in the grocery store while screaming "wiiiieeeeener!"), but those words sure brought out all kinds of anxious isolating angst.  Now I'll wonder, every time we get one of the whole-class invitations to a party - is this the parent that has an issue with my kid & is praying we don't show?  Even beyond that...  are parents planning parties & leaving my kid out completely?  Nobody wants that.  Not for themselves but especially not their kids.  This is tough stuff.
Gosh, I'm not sure I shared anything that is of any value to anyone reading this (other than - you aren't the only one out there!!), and it was really more of a personal whine fest than anything else.  Somehow it helped to say it.  I'm still not really in the mood to talk about it. but I needed to get it off my chest!
The meeting yesterday was so much more than that tiny (hurtful) part.  It was a very productive meeting & I really do feel like his school is doing all they can to help him succeed.  There's a small difference in him now that the meds have been started (for at least a few hours anyway), and we'll play the dosage/combo game until we get it all worked out, but I don't think we can rely on just that as he gets further along in school.  The school is going to do some more observations & they're going to try to work more positive rewards in for him meanwhile.  We're going to meet again in a couple of weeks & I really hope things have improved already by then, but I have no doubt that we will get him to a wonderful place even if it's not that soon.
He's SO smart.  He's super creative.  He's funny, and certainly the life of the party.  He's in love with reading, and he's really getting curious about God on a deeper level.  He's got so many amazing attributes, I really am blessed to have him in my life.  Sometimes it's hard to see the good in the midst of life's troubles, but I don't ever want to take for granted what an amazing boy he is & I truly believe there are great things in store for his future.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hey Mom (and Dad), It WILL All Be Okay.

I keep doing what I do because who else would do it?!  Seriously?
The number of you who reach out to me every time I post something makes me hurt.  -not for you (although, I get it & sometimes I do hurt for you!), but for the fact that you don't feel you can be the voice you want to be, or for the fact that you feel lost in this crazy ADHD tailspin, or for the fact that you don't really have anyone to talk to - "nobody else GETS it".  For whatever reason it is that you reach out to me (or even those of you who don't reach out, but so badly want to, you're just too afraid/unsure of what you need/too tired/etc/etc), it really matters to me that you do.  I am so happy that I have family & friends that support me, my family, & my life.  To be honest though, when I started this journey there were plenty of people who didn't support me.  Those people have either been put aside (I really don't have time for that nonsense!), or they've come around.  That's really the only options I offer.  I am who I am & my family is what my family is.  We struggle to survive some days & others we laugh at the shock on faces of people around us who have no clue what we're about.  It wasn't easy getting to this point though, and like I said, I am lucky enough to have great support.
You have all made me realize that what I have to say does matter to someone though, so maybe I"ll try a little harder to make time to share with you.  This is a wonderful escape for me, I do love to write (though I'm not always as eloquent as I pretend to be in my head), and even more, I love to offer hope & support to others in this crazy journey.  It's not just families affected by ADHD either, there's a whole pot of alphabet soup out there & so many of those combos don't have enough voices.  I encourage each of you to reach out to someone who can help you.  You might be surprised by how many others are feeling the same things you are & have no clue there's another family dealing with similar issues.  Parents/families of special needs kids are more common than you may think, and most of us are feeling just as overwhelmed & often lonely as you are.
I am a Christian, and I don't mean to isolate you if you are not, but it's very much a part of who I am & very much a part of where my strength comes from.  Actually, it's often the ONLY place my strength comes from.  In the most difficult of moments, I can lean on the fact that God is my son's Father & I should love him as much as He does.  I am human, so I will never be able to love quite as perfectly & definitely not as unconditionally, but I sure come as close as I can!!  God has made my son who he is for a reason, and He has loaned him to me for yet another reason.  Some days I question those reasons quite honestly, and some days I literally cry out "WHY ME?", but I know it is all for a greater purpose than I can understand at this time.  I am very weak, but just as God told Paul, His power shows up best in weak people.  Wow, I must have super powers then 'cause...  well, I'm weak.

All that aside, I just want each of you to know I am thinking of you, and your children, and these days are hard - so hard - but they will get better.  The rewards we will each earn from the struggles of these children is so much more than we can imagine, and that's the truth whether you believe in God or not.  Your children WILL one day see all that you have done for them & they will one day thank you in their own way.  Do not give up on these beautiful children, or yourselves.

I'll be back soon to share about my latest meeting at school & how very overwhelming life is at this moment.  Right now I just don't have it in me.  I don't want to talk about it.  I just wanted you to all know I appreciate you entrusting me with your own worries, fears, and joys & I really do care.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My trip to Holland. (A day in the life of an ADHD family.)

Wow.  I just found this tucked away in my blog posts.  I wrote it (about a year ago) & never posted it.  I'm assuming I second-guessed my sharing, but I don't know.  I think I'll share now.  I'll share now because I have friends struggling & I want them to know they are not alone.  I'll share now because I have friends who don't believe things could really be all I say.  I'll share now because I'm sure I have friends who don't believe ADHD is real.  I'll share now also because some stranger may stumble upon this & fall into any of those descriptions as well.  Friends, strangers, anyone reading this...  ADHD is so real, and it's a struggle for children & adults, boys & girls, rich & poor, country folks & urban dwellers...  You get it, ADHD can impact anyone's life.  There's not really a lot of research put into it like Autism (though most ADHDers do seem to fall somewhere on the spectrum), or several other childhood diseases/disorders/etc.  There's not a lot of awareness either, just lots of (bad) jokes.  Maybe if more of us dealing with it, either directly or through our children, share our experiences then people will start to understand that ADHD is so much more than those jokes imply.
So, here's a glimpse into my trip to Holland...

My son has ADHD.  My life is incredibly hard because of it.
I hope that one day he doesn't read this & hate me for it.  I hope that he is never embarrassed by who he is, how he thinks, or what his mom (and dad) shared with the world.  I feel like too many people are keeping quiet though, and so they feel alone...  plus the outsiders - the ones who TRULY believe that you can "spank away" the ADHD, or that it's "made up" by parents.  You know, those of us who are lazy & don't want to put effort into raising our kids.  bwahahaha!  If only they knew!!  So, here it is - parenting an ADHD kid from a non ADHDer's point of view...
My son is amazing.  Quite possibly more amazing than a neurotypical child in so many ways.  How?  He doesn't give a flying flip about what other people think, how other people see things, or how much society pushes him to fit into the "norm".  He likes what he likes.  He does what he does.  He is who he is & for the most part a stranger's opinion means nothing to him.  Wouldn't it be fabulous to live like that?!  He's also so very creative & full of life.  I mean FULL of life.  He sees the world in all it's beauty & is overwhelmed & excited by every tiny little thing.  He doesn't walk through life only focused on his destination - he takes in ALL the scenery.  Every. last. little. bit.  He also stands his ground.  if he believes something to be the truth you will not convince him otherwise.  Really, he's amazing.  Aren't all KIDS?  ...let's stop focusing for one second on his diagnosis & remember that HE'S A KID.  So many adults seem to forget that about him.  Even his own parents.  Because his wisdom is beyond his years & his stamina is well beyond ours.  ;)
My son has combined type ADHD (CHADD has info of the types of ADHD here).  As with most cases, he also comorbid conditions (read about those here at ADDitude Magazine) of ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) which is more difficult to manage than you can even imagine, & some SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), which does seem to be slowly improving.  He has some other things going on that lead us to believe there's more...  but there is no official diagnosis beyond what I've listed & really that's not even what I'm here to talk about.  :)  I just wanted to offer some FACTS about the stuff he lives with daily.  Now, let me tell you what I live with daily...
My day starts anywhere from 6-7 (though occasionally much, much earlier).  I don't even have time to get a cup of coffee in me before K comes bouncing in, demanding things & making insanely annoying sounds.  He is a big fan of screeching.  Always has been.  ALWAYS.  Every year I think he'll outgrow it...  but, not so much.  (He's 6.5 by the way.)  He wants breakfast (and I say a silent THANK YOU because he's actually hungry!), but he wants to eat it in "THIS ROOM".  When I tell him to sit at the table instead, all hell often breaks loose.  On the days it doesn't, he gets his brother (he's 1.5) in on the action by telling him to scream, or throw things, or whatever else crazy idea comes to his mind.  I finally get food in him, give him his meds (that take an hour to kick in), and try to sit down & do a devotional with him.  Some days that doesn't go so well (like today).  So, he moves on to dancing around, throwing toys (in a playful way, but still!), banging on anything that may make a loud sound, and of course there's screeching.  Often there is yelling too.  If I'm lucky, by this point I've gotten at least part of a cup of coffee down.
Once he's *finally* dressed/brushed/shoed for school, we head off.  If we're walking, there's usually a big struggle of keeping up with him while pushing his brother.  Making sure he doesn't run in front of cars (our neighborhood has no sidewalks!), and trying to keep him from screaming & waking up all the neighbors.  Usually his meds do kick in sometime on the way to school.
I get a "break" for 7 hours while he's in school, but I spend a lot of that time worrying that he's being ignored by classmates, yelled at by staff, not getting enough attention from his teacher, and of course I know he's hardly eating any of his lunch even though I packed his favorite things.  (On the subject, let's not judge other kids' lunches, okay?  I put stuff in there that isn't ideal for what I want a kid eating, but my goal during his medicated hours is to get SOMETHING in him.  If that means that today he's eating Cheetos, Muscle Milk, & freeze dried apples, then that's what it is.  ...though that would honestly be a feast for him.  I'm more likely to see 3/4 of the Muscle Milk & all of the apples back at home for snack time.)
When I pick him up, he's usually in a pretty good mood.  Sometimes he gets to have a playdate or we go somewhere fun, but usually he has a schedule that we stick to.  Ever minute of his day has to be planned out or he goes apesh!t.  Sorry, but that's the honest truth.  He thrives on schedules.  ...can you imagine having to keep up with a toddler AND ensure that your 6.5 year old is following a schedule every minute of the day?  EX.HAUS.TING.  For real.
Around 4 the fun starts back up.
Screeching.  Yelling.  Silly noises.  Running into walls.  Banging on things.  You know, anything loud & crazy.  He loves that stuff.  Keeping him busy (and sticking to his schedule) helps a lot, but some days are just CRAZY.  Also, if he had a rough day at school, he's probably starting to take that out on me by now.  Yay.  I feel honored that he knows I love him so much that he can't hurt me...  but, man, does it hurt!  It's so hard.  I find myself yelling.  I hate yelling.  I find myself wanting to run away.  I find myself losing my ever loving mind!!  ...but it's only 4pm!
Dinner time always goes the same.  We all sit down, the food is served, and immediately "I don't like..."  "I am NOT eating...".  Every time.  Even the days that I specifically make stuff he likes, so that I don't have to hear all that.  Once he finally starts eating something, he also starts getting his brother to act up again.  Spitting grapes across the table, screeching, standing in the high chair...  If he spills something WHEN he spills something (because he's acting silly), he licks it right off the table.  Yum.  Some days he throws such a huge fit over eating his food (because, you know, his favorite food from yesterday is horrendous today), that he's left sitting all alone at the table an hour later.  That doesn't go over well - he starts throwing the chairs or banging them into the wall.  He calls us names.  He screams loud enough that I'm actually really surprised the cops have never been called.  Eventually he does eat the food, but mom & dad are mentally exhausted by then.  Yes, pick your battles...  we do.  Sometimes he really needs to eat though.  He's just too skinny.
The rest of the evening is full of some laughter, lots of screaming, often crying, more screeching, lots & lots & lots of activity.  I've never, ever seen a kid move so much!  I wish words could explain how much he GOES.  They can't though.  He's just always, always, always moving.
He gets a sleep aid with dinner.  It takes 2+ hours to kick in, even though it's supposed to make him tired right away.  hahaha, funny.  By 8(ish) he's supposed to be winding down for bed.  He usually is at least in bed by 9.  But bedtime is full of rituals.  He has to have a certain blanket, he has to have his Dreamlight turned a certain way, must have the right white noise on, he has to give us hugs in a certain order, be tucked in, have his water, then he has to say his prayer (the same one, always), then tell his dad the "magic words" (he's said these since he was 2, though he has at least shortened it!) "mwah, mwah, mwah, have a fabulous night-night, check & bye-bye.  If I'm in my room check on me 5 times & cuddle with me googaplex times.".  Then I have to tuck the blanket up by his head, hug him, & he has to tell me the magic words.  All done!   ...hahahaha, no.  Then he has to tell me anything & everything he can think up on the spot to keep me from leaving.  AND, when I finally get to leave, I have to lay in my bedroom next door until he's asleep.  Plus, we have to have certain lights on.  (Heaven help you if you turn them off in the middle of the night because he WILL wake up!)  If all of those things as done just right, he'll be asleep in 15-30 minutes.  ...at least for a while.  :p
Then, 2am comes & he screams for me.  He can't sleep.  Some days I can just sit with him & he drifts back off... some days it's a struggle.  Some mornings he's up at 4am (or earlier, blah) to start the day.  A lot of those days he will go play video games & not wake me.  ...on purpose.  He turns on every light in the house though, and I have mommy instincts that kick in even w/out all the lights on.  Those days, those are great.  Especially since the toddler still doesn't sleep all night either.  :)
Some of you may read this & think it's not that different from your days.  But this is EVERY day.  Without fail.  I really can't convey the full craziness of it in words either.  It's exhausting though!  In some ways, it has gotten better with age (he can do more for himself at least!), but not at all like I always thought.  I've known something was different about his since pretty much day 1, but I had no doubts by 9 months.  He's insanely smart, but the energy & lack of impulse control is so draining!!
I can't even tell you all the crazy things that he's done in public.  He punched a big screen tv (the display) in Best Buy once.  One day, he picked up a sausage & beat me with it while screaming "wiener!" at the grocery store.  He escaped from his preschool when he was 4.  Thankfully it was almost pick-up time & his Ma saw him.  He tried to dive off a 10' ledge into a shallow pool of water when he was 3, but I was *right there*, as always, and saved him.  I was always seen as a helicopter parent when he was a toddler, but if I wasn't 3 steps ahead of him, he possibly wouldn't have survived his own lack of impulse control.  We got lots & lots of notes/calls about him hitting/pushing/shoving kids in preschool.  I had to chase him through all of Costco once.  Just recently he walked across a street right in front of a truck that was *luckily* watching & slammed on their brakes.  He's thrown the most epic fits of all time in public, and as others gawked & commented on my parenting skills, I proceeded with the directions I had been given in behavioral therapy (yeah, get off your high horses people, some of us DO set boundaries & still end up as THAT parent in the store).  I've been slapped, hit, pinched, called names, yelled at, kicked...  and cried on more times than I can count.  At 6.5 he still sometimes has tantrums bigger than most 2 year olds can throw.
I tried EVERYTHING I could to help him, without medicating him.  It isn't an easy decision for any parent to make, to medicate their precious child.  It wasn't about me "controlling" him or "not wanting to deal", it was knowing that he couldn't function in this world unmedicated.  Without meds he has no control over his actions, he can't focus on anything, and he's crazy mean.  I still question my choice to medicate him.  Daily.  However, he's doing well (academically) in school, he's able to go out & do "normal" things during the day, and he's this amazing, thoughtful & loving kid.  When I took him in to see about medicating him, the director made it clear that they do not like to use medication as a first line of help.  Before our interview was even finished, before his official tests were even back, she suggested I go ahead & make an appt with the psychiatrist.  It was obvious to her that I HAD tried every other option & that he needed more help than I could give him.  His psychiatrist has been great, and being medicated has really helped him in so many ways.  I can't say if I'll continue to medicate him forever, but I can say that HE prefers the way he feels medicated.  He feels out of control & sad when he's not medicated.  At 6 he knows that?!
Stop judging us.  Stop thinking we're lazy parents because we medicate our kids.  Most of us medicate them so they can function in school & we see very little of that side of them at home.  We all struggle with the choice we made (parents who don't medicate struggle with that choice too!), and we're all just trying to do the best we can for our kids.  Also, doctors aren't just handing out pills.  It's not that easy.  ESPECIALLY for young kids.  Most pediatricians won't medicate young kids & there aren't tons of child psychiatrists out there (at least not around me, and I live in one of the biggest cities in the US).  Nobody wants to create zombies out of children, we just want to help them see the world clearly & be the best they can be.
Oh, and also, stop the crap about spanking it out of them.  You can't spank ADHD out of a person any more than you can hug depression out, or smile aggression away.

I wake up. ...an update on being an (exhausted) ADHD mom.

Yesterday morning, Sweetiepiesparkles tripped over the sidewalk.  He'd had a rather rough day the day before, so I asked him if he was going to have another rough day.  His response was "I wake up mommy, I wake up.".
Such an innocent statement that had such a profound meaning to ME.  Lately (and especially this week!) I feel like just waking up = a rough day.  I've cleaned poop from places it shouldn't be, I've cleaned pee off of walls, I've gotten emails & calls about Kman from school, I've had a flat tire, endless laundry & dishes, complete exhaustion to battle (gee, I wonder why!)...  the list goes on & on.  It's nothing especially out of the norm (okay, maybe my kids don't usually poop outside in a pile of dog poo...), but when it all seems to be piling up...  Wow.
I feel overwhelmed & helpless.  I feel lost, and yet I'm the leader.  So many people truly seem to believe ADHD is not real.  I am here to tell you with so. much. conviction that it IS real.  The hardest part of having a child with ADHD is that he overwhelms the family.  I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, but sometimes it is bad.  He is SO MUCH.  He's more awesome than any kid I've ever met.  He's full of so much more energy than anyone I've ever met.  He's so, so, so smart.  He's the center of attention 110% of the day.  When he's not the center, for just a brief moment, he makes himself the center.  Everything in our lives revolve around him.  It's exhausting & just so very difficult.  Seriously, imagine one of your kids going 90 to nothing from 7am - 9pm (on a good day ;)) & pulling everything around him in to him, him, him.  When he's happy (which is not often enough!), the whole family is happy.  When he's angry, he sucks us all into anger.  When he's sad, we're all sad.  When he's anxious, we're all on edge.  The only thing he doesn't seem to share is all that energy.  I really wish he'd share that!!
I decided early on this summer to stop medicating him.  I grew to love who he was all over again (even though I became more exhausted).  He started eating & gained lots of weight.  He started sleeping (first time in 7 years!!!!).  He started being his crazy, carefree self.  So when it came time for school, I continued on without medicating him.  I met with the school beforehand & gave them a very detailed portfolio all about how awesome he is, and also all the quirks he has that would *no doubt* become apparent & need to be addressed.
From day 1, there have been issues, all of which are typical ADHD behaviors & nothing shocking to me.  He climbs the walls in the bathroom.  He doesn't stop talking, ever.  He sucks all the energy of the classroom into him *spotlight*.  He doesn't follow directions.  He doesn't pay attention.  He doesn't stop even after multiple warnings.  He stuck a paperclip in an outlet (who knew you needed to babyproof for a 7 year old?  ...well, actually, *I* knew).  He is a hot mess at school, and school just isn't the right place to be a hot mess.  If I homeschooled him, he could be all that, it would be okay, we would make it work.  Simple truth though, I have no interest in attempting homeschool.  At least right now.  Maybe not ever.  Who knows what the future will bring though.  So, back to the drawingboard we all go.  His teachers, his counselor, his #1 advocate (me, duh).  We all have to figure this out & make things right for him.
I asked him this morning what he wanted.  I asked him point-blank if he preferred being medicated.  He said, for school, yes.  So, there you have it.  I won't deny what he wants, since he knows what feels best.  I want to do right by him.  Is 7 too young to make that decision?  I don't know, but I know that I'm struggling, so I'll do what he feels is best.  Or I'll attempt it at least.  That means finding a new dr though.  One that will listen to me.  One that won't add meds on top of meds to cover up side effects.  The problem is, there aren't that many pediatric psychiatrists out there.  So, all those folks that think it's sooooo easy to get meds for kids & turn them into "zombies", let me tell you - NOPE.  Not so easy.   There are so many regulations around it all that it's like an act of congress to get them.  At least it is for me.
I think I planned on taking this post somewhere else entirely, but I got distracted by a phone call from the school.  (Go figure.)  Of course, I also happened to get a call from a robot-telemarketer that said "I just won a free trip to the Bahamas".  IF. ONLY.  I'd be on the first plane!!  ...no, actually I wouldn't, there are 2 amazing little boys here that need their mommy to be their voice when they don't have the words.  As exhausting as it is, I cannot imagine any greater calling in my life than to be the mother of these 2 incredible little guys.  Thank you God for knowing better than I.  For knowing that these lives would change mine in such a way that I can't even begin to comprehend.  Thank you God for entrusting such a spirited child into my care, so that I may grow to be a more patient & caring person.  Help me to do right by him & help me to know that it's okay to make mistakes - as long as I learn from them.